The overarching Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018-2030) is the main guiding document for the country and provides guidance for the Development Aid Coordination Unit on newly proposed projects by Development Partners. The plan’s Goal 5 “focuses on the legal, institutional and policy frameworks required to better protect and manage our natural environment and ecosystems, through strengthened conservation efforts, improved development and infrastructure planning, and increased enforcement against illegal natural resource related practices, pollution, and other harmful activities”.
The key guiding documents for this overarching government policy referenced therein, include the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2015-2020), and the Marine Spatial Planning Roadmap for Myanmar (2016) – both of which were produced with significant technical input from WCS. The Myanmar government also reiterated its commitment to developing a national Marine Spatial Plan by 2021, at the Our Ocean’s conference in 2017.
After decades of isolation, technical work on these plans increased in recent years, with a detailed assessment of Myanmar’s ecosystems, following the Ecosystem Red List assessment process. This was completed in 2020, and provides a high-quality class baseline for terrestrial ecosystem types and status, as well as basic data to support further technical assessments.
Myanmar has formally identified 159 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA), through a series of processes since 2003, and with an update process started in 2019 and still ongoing. Incorporating new data from the Myanmar Ecosystem Maps and Ecosystem Red List, the process expects to identify new KBAs using the new KBA criteria. Myanmar has vast areas of Intact Forests, some of the larger tropical forest areas remaining in the world, and the KBA process expects to identify several important sites of outstanding ecological integrity.
Ecosystem Red Listing: https://www.myanmar-ecosystems.org/
Intact Forests: https://www.forestintegrity.com/
Agriculture, fisheries, and the extraction of natural resources are the main livelihoods for millions of Myanmar’s rural people. Land, forest, water, and fisheries are depleted and continue to decline; management systems have changed little since the colonial era, with local communities excluded and marginalised from most resources.
Industrial development has gained pace in recent years, with major extraction of offshore gas, construction of pipelines, and coastal infrastructure. In addition, several Asian Highway Network projects, and the Belt and Road initiative, have major plans for linear infrastructure development.
A new Land Policy (2016) provides a strong basis for improved land management, but is yet to be translated into law. Community Forestry Instructions (2017), and the reformed Forest Law (2018) and Conservation of Biodiversity and Protected Areas (CBPA) Law (2018) have the potential to drive system-wide changes, though they need national and local government capacity to implement them.
The Coastal Resources Management Committee, has committed to a process of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) for Myanmar to provide a foundation for the coordination of interests, including fisheries, transportation, exploitation of natural gas, national defence, tourism, biodiversity conservation and the needs of local communities
The Myanmar Biodiversity Fund is a partner on this project as it is the first and only trust fund incorporated in Myanmar, with an intention to support biodiversity conservation. The Trust Fund was formally established in July 2019, and has been developing basic structures and operational procedures.
Develop data and tools to support spatial planning and decision-making to avoid and mitigate impacts on priority biodiversity and support progress towards national biodiversity objectives in coordination with stakeholders
Ecosystem Red List: https://www.myanmar-ecosystems.org
Ecological Sensitivity Mapping for oil spill risk management.